Dr. Maximilian Benner

Economist and economic geographer interested in institutional and evolutionary approaches to regional development, EU-level policy transfer and translation, and Mediterranean EU enlargement and neighborhood countries
Senior post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna

Fields of research

  • Regional development and innovation policy in the context of EU cohesion policy, enlargement policy, and neighborhood policy including EU structural funds, smart specialization, LEADER/CLLD, IPA, ENI
  • Institutional and evolutionary economic geography behavioral approaches to regional development in EU member states (incl. Austria and Mediterranean Europe)
  • Regional-level applications of science and technology studies and critical approaches to regional development
  • Policy-oriented economic geography including regional development, industrial policy and tourism development in Mediterranean countries (incl. Croatia, Slovenia, Western Balkans, Cyprus, Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Tunisia)

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    ORCID: 0000-0003-1386-808X

  • Maximilian Benner is an economist and economic geographer at the University of Vienna with a focus on regional development in EU enlargement and neighborhood countries. In addition to his research, he has been teaching courses on economic geography and regional development at the University of Vienna, Heidelberg University, Webster Vienna Private University, Hafen City University, and the University of Klagenfurt. He has worked as a consultant in projects funded by international donors, including in a study on export development in Cyprus, a study on agricultural innovation in Tunisia, an Interreg project for the Danube macro-region, an international support facility for innovation in the Western Balkans, and technical assistance projects on regional development in Tunisia. Further, he has worked at the European Commission's Joint Research Center in Seville. His research focuses on conceptual aspects of institutional and evolutionary economic geography with a focus on Austria and Mediterranean Europe and on the economic geography of EU enlargement and neighborhood countries with a particular focus on Israel and Tunisia.


    Current research project

  • "Industrial-institutional co-evolution in regional economies" (Lise Meitner grant of the Austrian Science Fund FWF) at the Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna, 2021-2023, Link

  • Current teaching

  • Courses in economic geography at the University of Vienna, Link

  • Articles in refereed journals

  • Benner, M. (forthcoming). Retheorizing industrial-institutional coevolution: A multidimensional perspective. Regional Studies (in press)
  • Haddad, C., Benner, M. (2021). Situating innovation policy in Mediterranean Arab countries: A research agenda for context sensitivity. Research Policy 50 (7), 104273, Download
  • Benner, M. (2020). Six additional questions about smart specialization: Implications for regional innovation policy 4.0. European Planning Studies 28 (8), 1667-1684, Download
  • Benner, M. (2020). Mitigating human agency in regional development: The behavioural side of policy processes. Regional Studies, Regional Science 7 (1), 164-182, Download
  • Benner, M. (2020). The decline of tourist destinations: An evolutionary perspective on overtourism. Sustainability 12 (9), 3653, Download
  • Benner, M. (2020). Overcoming overtourism in Europe: Towards an institutional-behavioral research agenda. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie 64 (2), 74-87, Download
  • Benner, M. (2020). The spatial evolution-institution link and its challenges for regional policy. European Planning Studies 28 (12), 2428-2446, Download
  • Benner, M. (2020). Tourism in the context of smart specialization: The example of Montenegro. Current Issues in Tourism 23 (21), 2624-2630, Download
  • Benner, M. (2019). Smart specialization and institutional context: The role of institutional discovery, change and leapfrogging. European Planning Studies 27 (9), 1791-1810, Download
  • Benner, M. (2019). Industrial policy in the EU and its neighbourhood: Learning from policy experimentation. Economies 7 (2), 44, Download
  • Benner, M. (2017). From clusters to smart specialization: Tourism in institution-sensitive regional development policies. Economies 5 (3), 26, Download
  • Lehmann, T., Benner, M. (2015). Cluster policy in the light of institutional context - A comparative study of transition countries. Administrative Sciences 5 (4), 188-212, Download
  • Benner, M. (2014). From smart specialisation to smart experimentation: Building a new theoretical framework for regional policy of the European Union. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie 58 (1), 33-49, Download

  • Book chapters

  • Benner, M. (2020). Cluster policy in Tunisia: From institutional voids to smart specialization. In Gutowski, A., Hassan, N.M., Knedlik, T., Ngo Tong, C.M., Wohlmuth, K. (Eds.), Science, technology and innovation policies for inclusive growth in Africa: Human skills development and country cases. African development perspectives yearbook, Vol. 21. Münster: LIT: 319-346
  • Benner, M. (2017). Smart specialisation and cluster emergence: Building blocks for evolutionary regional policies. In Fornahl, D., Hassink, R. (Eds.), The life cycle of clusters: A policy perspective. Camberley: Edward Elgar: 151-172, Link
  • Benner, M. (2017). The legacy of Sidi Bouzid: Overcoming spatial inequalities in Tunisia. In Krížek, D., Záhorík, J. (Eds.), Beyond the 'Arab Spring' in North Africa: Macro and micro perspectives. Lanham: Lexington: 47-65, Link
  • Benner, M. (2015). Europa und der Maghreb: Von der Nachbarschaft zur Wirtschaftspartnerschaft. In Neuss, Beate, Nötzold, Antje (Eds.), The Southern Mediterranean: Challenges to the European foreign and security policy. Baden-Baden: Nomos: 57-82

  • Monographs

  • Benner, M. (2020). A new Arab social contract? Institutional perspectives for economic reform in Arab countries. Cham: Springer, Link
  • Benner, M. (2012). Clusterpolitik: Wege zur Verknüpfung von Theorie und politischer Umsetzung. Münster: LIT

  • Technical reports

  • Radovanovic, N., Benner, M. (2019). Smart specialisation and the wider innovation policy context in the Western Balkans. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, Download

  • Consulting studies

  • Batstone, S., Benner, M., Meyn, M. (2016). Study on improving Cyprus' export performance. Study presented to the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (unpublished)
  • Benner, M., Hajaiej, M., Boudhrioua, N. (2016). Étude de référence pour les centres d’innovations vertes pour le secteur agro-alimentaire : Rapport du pays: Tunisie. Study presented to GIZ (unpublished)

  • Others (selection)

  • Benner, M., Haddad, C. (2020). Innovation policy in North Africa: The need for critical approaches. In Wohlmuth, K. (ed.). Festschrift of the Research Group on African Development Perspectives Yearbook at the occasion of thirty years (1989-2019) of the African Development Perspectives Yearbook – Impacts on Policy Reforms in Africa. Bremen: University of Bremen: 86-89, Download
  • Benner, M. (2014). Decentralised regional development policy in Tunisia: A new beginning after the "Arab Spring"? International Reports 06/2014: 31-50, Download
  • Benner, M. (2012). Cluster policy as a development strategy: case studies from the Middle East and North Africa. University of Lüneburg Working Paper Series in Economics No 255, December 2012, Download
  • Benner, M. (2012). Cluster policy: Principles and a toolbox. SPACES online, Vol. 10, Issue 2012-01. Toronto and Heidelberg: www.spaces-online.com Download
  • Benner, M. (2011). How export-led growth can lead to take-off. University of Lüneburg Working Paper Series in Economics No 222, December 2011, Download
  • Benner, M. (2009). What do we know about clusters? In search of effective cluster policies. SPACES online, Vol. 7, Issue 2009-04. Toronto and Heidelberg: www.spaces-online.com Download

  • Book reviews

  • Benner, M. (2017). Dannenberg, P., Kulke, E. (Eds.), Economic development in rural areas: Functional and multifunctional approaches. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie 61 (2). 115
  • Benner, M. (2014). Wood, A., Roberts, S., Economic geography: Places, networks and flows. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie 58 (1). 66-67

  • Editorships

  • Special issue "Regional development and policy in the EU neighborhood countries". Economies, 2020, Link
  • Special issue "Inclusive development — what does it mean for regions and cities?" Administrative Sciences, 2017, Link
  • Special issue "Cluster policy: Institutional and international perspectives". Administrative Sciences, 2015/2017 Link
  • Member of the editorial board of "Economies"

  • Presentations

  • "Tourism in Israel: Regional evolution in the context of EU alignment". Presentation held at the online research seminar of Modul University, Vienna, 15 March 2021
  • "A new Arab social contract? Institutional perspectives for economic reform in Arab countries". Presentation held at the online colloquium of the Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna, Vienna, 21 September 2020
  • "EU alignment and institutional change: Tourism in Eilat, Israel". Presentation held at the online research seminar of the Economic Geography Group, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, 25 May 2020
  • "Policies to drive structural transformation: The EU experience with smart specialization". Presentation held at the Joint Vienna Institute, Vienna, 5 September 2019
  • "Promoting competition in regional development: from industrial economics to smart specialization". Presentation held at the RSA Annual Conference, Santiago de Compostela, 6 June 2019
  • "Perspektiven der Wissensgesellschaft in Tunesien und Jordanien". Presentation held at the Austrian Institute for International Policy (ÖIIP), Vienna, 28 January 2019
  • "Promoting innovation in the Western Balkans: strengthening innovation systems, tackling brain drain". Presentation held at the workshop "Beyond emigration: education and circular migration as solution for the brain drain?", Vienna, 5 November 2018
  • "Smart specialization and institutional context: towards a process of institutional discovery and change". Presentation held at the JRC/RSA 2018 SMARTER Conference, Seville, 28 September 2018
  • "Structural transformation: how to design place-based competitiveness policies". Presentation held at the Joint Vienna Institute, Vienna, 6 September 2018
  • "Socio-economic regulation in Tunisia and Jordan: an institutional framework for economic reform". Presentation held at the Panel "Economic geography, networks and institutional change" at the Fifth Global Conference on Economic Geography, Cologne, 26 July 2018
  • "The digitalization of SMEs in service industries: how can policy help?" Presentation held at the World Conference on Intellectual Capital for Communities, Paris, 14 June 2018
  • "Upgrading tourism in Eilat". Presentation held at the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, Jerusalem, 16 November 2017
  • "A new Arab social contract? Institutional perspectives for private sector growth in Arab economies". Presentation held at the panel on "Geographies of institutions and institutional change II: Field structuration, innovation and economic growth" at the Fourth Global Conference on Economic Geography, Oxford, 21 August 2015
  • "Smart specialisation and cluster emergence: Building blocks for evolutionary regional policies". Presentation held at the International Dissemination Workshop "Cluster policies from a cluster life cycle perspective", Berlin, 23 June 2014
  • "Instrumente der Clusterpolitik". Presentation held at the First Darmstadt TCI Conference, 15 April 2010

  • Maximilian Benner, e-Mail: post(a)maximilian-benner.eu
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